Marcus Samuelsson’s Favorite Whiskey and Iced Tea Drink

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Ever since witnessing the ungodly amount of sugar that goes into sweet tea on my first trip to the South, I've always been wary of any and all iced tea. Either it's so sweet that I end up worrying about long-term effects on my body from one single glass, or there's absolutely no flavor whatsoever. 

The big problem is that I'd really love to enjoy a nice refreshing glass of iced tea in the summertime, preferably sitting on a porch and away from all of the big-city traffic, but I've never been that great at brewing my own. Sometimes I use too many bags, other times too few, and I've also been told I leave the bags in too long. Part of me just thinks I'll never be satisfied, and so I look for a tea that satisfies me by being both flavorful, but also not full of garbage ingredients that sound like planets in a sci-fi novel. 

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Pure Leaf, with their Tea House collection, makes this one flavor that hits everything I could want: it's organic, it uses real ingredients, and really tastes damn good. The wild blackberry and sage especially hits the spot, and upon pouring myself a glass, I thought to myself that the only thing that could make the experience better was some whiskey since whiskey really makes just about any experience a little better. 

But just pouring whiskey into your iced tea doesn't totally cut it. If you want a refreshing drink for the summertime, just use Marcus Samulesson's recipe and master the art of chilling out on a hot July day. 

Pure Blackberry Smash by Marcus Samuelsson (Serves 2)

Ingredients for the drink

  • 4 blackberries muddled
  • 1/8 cup thyme-infused simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Pure Leaf Tea House Collection Black Tea Wild Blackberry & Sage
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 3 oz sparkling water or ginger ale


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large shaker. 
  2. Shake and double strain over fresh ice. 
  3. Garnish with a skewer of fresh blackberries. 
  4. For alcoholic version: Add 1 oz Four Roses bourbon

Ingredients for the thyme-infused simple syrup

  • 1 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 fresh thyme sprigs


  1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. Remove from the heat and add the thyme sprigs. Let steep for 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature before using. 
  3. Place the unused simple syrup in a sealed container and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks. 
  4. VIRGIN VERSION: Double the amount of tea and serve without bourbon.

TIP: Infusing a simple syrup with herbs, such as thyme, basil, or rosemary is a great way to add another flavor to your iced tea, cocktails, or marinades at home.

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